A number of differing opinions are being expressed in our community about whether we are ‘back to normal’ with all practices in our Church life. Thank God we no longer have restrictions on the numbers of people attending. We are able to sing our praises of God. Once again, we have holy water in the fonts. We pass the baskets for the collections. Archbishop Farrell has encouraged us to open up as much as possible. Yet it is clear that it’s not yet safe enough to return to the tradition of shaking hands at the Sign of Peace. Nor are we at the point when it is safe to offer the Precious Blood by sharing the chalice. Covid 19 and other respiratory viruses are still a reality among us. At time of writing, around 2,200 cases were notified nationally this past week. There are currently 169 people in hospital with Covid, of whom 21 are in ICU, with 27 deaths with Covid notified. 87 deaths with Covid were notified in the previous week.

There are many who deeply love to be able to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, one of the ancient traditions in our Church, as is receiving on the hand (as attested to by several of early Church greats, for example: St Cyril of Jerusalem [d. 386] in his Catechetical Lecture no. 23). Because of the pandemic, and the much greater risk of spreading infection when distributing Holy Communion on the tongue rather than on the hand, those who wish to receive the Eucharist on the tongue have had to forego their preference for a considerable period of time now and are eager in awaiting it’s return. There are also a significant number of people with underlying medical conditions and vulnerabilities who attend our church daily. We want to make our worship as safe as possible for them and everyone.

In order to gradually reintroduce the possibility of Holy Communion being received on the tongue, may I ask those who wish to receive this way if they would be so good as to approach the priest at the end of the procession of those coming forward for Holy Communion so as to minimise the risk of infection for others, mindful of the Lord’s words: “Many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” [Matthew 19:30] I would very much appreciate your patience and thoughtful consideration of others expressed in this way.

Fr Damian